Monthly Archives: December 2020

Thinking About Buying a Franchise in 2021? Here’s What You Need to Know

Dec 31, 2020 - Blog by |

If the start of the New Year has you thinking about buying a franchise, there are several important factors you will want to consider as you evaluate different franchise opportunities and make your final decision about moving forward. While many of these factors have to do with the financial aspects of buying a franchise, you need to consider the pertinent legal issues as well, as failing to protect yourself legally could potentially put your franchise in jeopardy. Here, national franchise lawyer Jeffrey M. Goldstein discusses four important legal considerations for individuals who are thinking about buying a franchise in 2021: 1. How Have Other Franchisees Fared During the Pandemic? Even once the COVID-19 vaccine is available to everyone nationwide, things still won’t fully be back to normal for some time. As a result, while there is reason for optimism in 2021, as a prospective franchisee, it is still important to take cues from 2020. Within the brands you are considering, how have existing franchisees fared during the pandemic? Are they optimistic about the future? You can find franchisees’ contact information in the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD), and you can – and should – speak with many franchisees during the due diligence process. 2. What Will Happen if Your Franchise Isn’t Successful? No one wants to think about the possibility of failure when buying a franchise. But, the reality is that addressing this contingency is one of the most important aspects of ensuring that you have reasonable legal protections before you […]

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5 Legal Considerations for Buying a Mobile Franchise

Dec 29, 2020 - Blog by |

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the vast majority of Americans to spend more time at home, and it has had a hugely detrimental impact on the brick-and-mortar retail sector. Even with some light at the end of the tunnel heading into 2021, there are still many unknowns, and many experts are suggesting that consumers’ enhanced reliance on home services and home delivery will be an enduring trend. Given these considerations, buying a mobile franchise may seem like a good option. If you are thinking about buying a mobile franchise, what do you need to know? Here are some tips from national franchise attorney Jeffrey M. Goldstein: 1. Make Sure You Know What it Takes to Succeed Succeeding as a franchisee requires different skills and a different mindset than succeeding as an independent business owner. While you will need some of the same general business skills, you will also need to be able and willing to operate within the confines of the franchise system. While there are no true “keys” to success, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of building a profitable mobile franchise. 2. Make Sure You Know Why Franchises Fail In addition to knowing what it takes to succeed, it is also important to know why franchises fail. Building a successful franchise requires more than the ability to market and operate a successful business. Your success will be contingent upon your franchisor’s business practices as well; and, in many cases, franchisees fail because their franchisors […]

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Tim Hortons Franchisee Association Hits Brick Wall on Case Against Franchisor

Dec 23, 2020 - Franchise, Dealer & Antitrust Decisions in One Sentence by |

Tim Hortons Franchisee Association Hits Brick Wall on Case Against Franchisor In a scathing rejection of a complex case filed by an international franchise association, the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida refused to recognize that the franchisee association of Tim Hortons members had associational standing to sue for myriad alleged unfair acts and practices including supply price-gouging, franchisee equity-stripping, and misuse of the franchise advertising fund; similarly, the court rejected the viability of those same claims on substantive grounds as well. Great White N. Franchisee Ass’n-USA v. Tim Hortons USA, Inc., No. 20-cv-20878, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 239160 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 18, 2020)   Excerpts of the Case: Franchisee Counsel:   For Great White North Franchisee Association-USA, Inc., Plaintiff: Natalie Marlena Restivo, LEAD ATTORNEY, Adam Gruder Wasch, Wasch Raines, LLP, Boca Raton, FL; Gerald A. Marks, PRO HAC VICE, Marks & Klein, LLP, Red Bank, NJ. Franchisor Counsel: For Tim Hortons USA, Inc., Defendant: Michael D Joblove, LEAD ATTORNEY, Aaron Seth Blynn, Genovese Joblove & Battista, Miami, FL; Adam Acosta, John Mark Gidley, PRO HAC VICE, White & Case LLP, Washington, DC. For Jose E. Cil, Defendant: Aaron Seth Blynn, Genovese Joblove & Battista, Miami, FL. Judges: BETH BLOOM, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE. Opinion by: BETH BLOOM Opinion BACKGROUND This case involves an allegedly illegal and predatory business scheme implemented by THUSA’s holding company to convert the Tim Hortons franchise system into a supply chain business resulting in large profits at the expense of Plaintiff’s franchisee members. Tim Hortons […]

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Burger King Franchisee Hoisted on Own Petard

Dec 22, 2020 - Judge’s Distribution and Franchise Rulings from the Front Lines by |

Burger King Franchisee Hoisted on Own Petard Burger King Corp. v. Berry, No. 1:20-cv-21801-UU, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 233700 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 9, 2020) A recent franchise decision by the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida appears to have wrecked a Burger King franchisee’s chances of prevailing in the litigation. Although the franchisee attempted to skewer Burger King by slashing wildly with a general covenant of good faith argument, under the Court’s ruling, the Burger King franchisee ended up hoisted on its own petard given that the franchise agreement explicitly accorded to the franchisor complete discretion regarding assistance and training.   Excerpts of Case   Burger King Corp. v. Berry United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida December 9, 2020, Decided; December 10, 2020, Entered on Docket Case No. 1:20-cv-21801-UU Counsel:   For FRANCHISEE Darryl D. Berry, Capital Restaurant Group, LLC, a Georgia limited liability company, Defendants, Counter Claimants: Robert Mitchell Einhorn, LEAD ATTORNEY, Michael Daniel Braunstein, Zarco Einhorn Salkowski & Brito, P.A., Miami, FL. For FRANCHISOR Burger King Corporation, Plaintiff, Counter Defendant: Jessica Serell Erenbaum, LEAD ATTORNEY, Michael D Joblove, Genovese Joblove & Battista, Miami, FL. Judges: URSULA UNGARO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE. Opinion by: URSULA UNGARO Opinion   ORDER GRANTING IN PART MOTION TO DISMISS SECOND AMENDED COUNTERCLAIM … ANALYSIS A. The Second Amended Counterclaim Fails to Comply with this Court’s Order, D.E. 37. The Second Amended Counterclaim is full of allegations that the Court ordered Counterclaimants to omit from their Second Amended Counterclaim. For […]

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What Happens After You Sign a Franchise Agreement?

Dec 22, 2020 - Blog by |

Signing a franchise agreement signals the end of one process and the beginning of another. You have completed your evaluation of competing franchise opportunities and due diligence, and now you are officially a “franchisee.” So, what’s next? Here, franchise lawyer Jeffrey M. Goldstein explains what happens after you sign a franchise agreement: What Does It Mean to Sign a Franchise Agreement? A franchise agreement is a binding contract that establishes the franchisor’s and franchisee’s respective rights and obligations. Once you sign, there is no going back. You are committed to building and running your franchise, and you must now begin thinking in terms of what is and isn’t allowed under the terms of your agreement. You will soon be required to pay your initial franchise fee (if you haven’t paid it already), and this fee is almost certainly non-refundable under the terms of your franchise agreement. You probably only have a certain number of days or months to get your franchise up and running as well; and, even if you don’t open in time, you could still be liable for making monthly royalty and marketing fund payments. What Are Your Next Steps After Signing a Franchise Agreement? Once you sign a franchise agreement and pay the initial franchise fee, what are your next steps? Typically, you will be required to participate in some form of training, and you will need to execute a plan for meeting all of your franchise agreement’s other pre-opening requirements. You will need to find vendors, […]

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Question: How Do Franchise Exclusive Territories Work? Answer: They Usually Do Not

Dec 21, 2020 - Franchise Articles by |

Question: How Do Franchise Exclusive Territories Work? Answer: They Usually Do Not By: Jeffrey M. Goldstein jgoldstein@goldlawgroup.com 202-293-3947 In a recent franchise case before the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, the trial Court granted in part and denied in part the Defendant Franchisor’s motion to dismiss the Franchisee’s encroachment claims. Plaintiff Zubair Kazi was a president of numerous companies that owned and operated franchises across the United States, including a KFC location in Pueblo, Colorado, KFC of Pueblo (Kazi and KFC of Pueblo together the “franchisee”). Defendant, KFC US, LLC (“KFC” or the “franchisor”) was a national franchisor of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants. The case arose when KFC licensed another KFC restaurant (“outlet”) near the franchisee’s then-current location. The parties executed an initial Franchise Agreement (“Franchise Agreement”) allowing the franchisee to prepare fried chicken and other food recipes and to market them with certain trademarks and service marks, and thereafter a renewal Franchise Agreement on June 1, 2017. The Court identified the following provisions in the Franchise Agreement as “relevant”: 3.6 Except as provided in subsection 3.8, during the License Term KFC shall not use or license others to use any of the trademarks licensed hereunder in connection with the sale of any food products at any location within a radius of one and one-half miles of the Outlet, unless [exceptions not relevant here]. Right to Apply for New Franchised Outlets. Before permitting the establishment of any new franchised outlet (defined below) at a location closer […]

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“Non” Clauses in Franchise Agreements: What Do Prospective Franchisees Need to Know?

Dec 15, 2020 - Blog by |

Owning a franchise comes with many obligations. If you fail to meet your obligations as a franchisee, this can have varying consequences depending upon the specific issue and circumstances involved. Many of these obligations and consequences arise out of “non” clauses in the franchise agreement. Here, franchise attorney Jeffrey M. Goldstein explains what prospective and active franchisees need to know: 1. Non-Encroachment If you buy a franchise with a protected or exclusive territory, you will need to respect other franchisees’ territorial rights as well. This obligation typically appears in the form of a “non-encroachment” provision in the franchise agreement. If you encroach on another franchisee’s territory, you could face consequences up to and including termination of your franchise. Conversely, if a franchisee (or the franchisor) encroaches on your territory, then you may be able to enforce your right to non-encroachment. 2. Non-Competition When your franchise agreement ends (whether through expiration or termination), you will almost certainly be subject to a “non-competition” covenant. These covenants can vary widely in terms of their substantive scope, geographic scope, and duration. However, non-competition covenants are generally enforceable (with some exceptions), and franchisors will often vigorously enforce former franchisees’ non-competition obligations. 3. Non-Solicitation Many franchise agreements contain “non-solicitation” clauses in addition to non-competition clauses. These clauses prevent former franchisees from contacting their customers for business-related purposes. As a franchisee, “your” customer list actually belongs to your franchisor; and, once your franchise ends, you are no longer able to use the list (even if you have […]

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What are Some Red Flags for a Franchisee Lawyer When Reviewing an FDD?

Dec 8, 2020 - Blog by |

If you are thinking about buying a franchise, you probably have a list of factors that you are using to build a list of the brands you want to consider. The initial investment, royalty rate, number of local franchisees—these are all important considerations when choosing the franchise opportunity that makes the most sense for you. But, when you hire a franchisee lawyer to review your Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD), what are some of the issues that he or she will consider “red flags”? 5 Examples of Legal Issues that Could Spell Trouble for Prospective Franchisees A franchisee lawyer reviews an FDD from a very different perspective than a prospective franchisee. For example, here are five potential “red flags” from a franchisee lawyer’s point of view: 1. A History of Litigation (Especially Involving Franchisees) Most prospective franchisees skip over Item 3 of the FDD. However, from a franchisee lawyer’s perspective, the litigation disclosures in Item 3 can be extremely important. This is especially true if the franchisor has a history of litigating with its franchisees, although any significant amount of litigation could mean that the franchisors’ focus and resources will be shifted away from supporting franchisees and growing the franchised brand. 2. An Inexperienced Leadership Team Many franchise systems grow out of successful retail businesses. If your franchisor owned a successful business and then decided to franchise, lack of experience in franchising—as indicated in Item 2—could potentially present a concern. 3. Lack of a Registered Trademark One of the main reasons […]

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What Happens if I Don’t Negotiate My Franchise Agreement?

Dec 1, 2020 - Blog by |

When buying a franchise, it is important to hire a franchisee attorney to review the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and negotiate the franchise agreement. You have heard this advice plenty of times before. But, is it really necessary? What are the chances of a legal issue actually putting your franchise at risk? Given how much you are investing already, couldn’t you save some money and just accept the terms of the franchise agreement as they are written? When buying a franchise, conducting thorough due diligence, and negotiating your franchise agreement are two of the most important aspects of the process. To illustrate, let’s consider an example of what might happen if you sign the franchisor’s form agreement: You Need (or Want) to Cut Costs You’ve been operating your franchise for a while, and you have identified some areas where you could cut costs and increase your profit while also providing a better product or service to your customers. You decide to make some changes; and, just as your business starts to improve, you get a notice from your franchisor. You are in default of your franchise agreement because: You have purchased products from a company other than your franchisor’s designated supplier; You have deviated from the franchise system standards in violation of the Operations Manual; and, You started selling a new product or service without the franchisor’s approval. Not only must you revert to your franchisor’s “approved” less-profitable business model in order to save your franchise, but you must also […]

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